Passport to Brooklyn

It’s the first day of June, the first day of #blogjune.

It is hard to encapsulate Brooklyn, as there are so many moods and aspects to it, but here goes.

On my way to get coffee (there is a tendency to overheat the milk when asking for a latte, but the local coffee shop does a good espresso)


Visiting the library and checking out what’s inside.

The inside is a bit traditional though…
Playgrounds are aplenty, and there are kids everywhere. Not just now, it was school time!

The kids are gorgeous and friendly and will ask you your name in a cute New York accent. Hello to Scarlett whom I met in a shop while she was playing amongst the clothing racks.

You can be in the midst of the city and still find something straight out of Ferris Bueller.


Gary had let Bart and Friends rehearse at his house and fed us bagels, coffee and organized a grill on his side porch. Jeremy managed the grilling.

Girls in cute dresses and cuter bags:-).


The real estate windows are always fun to look at :).


And the view is pretty cool too. xxx

What’s new bookgrrl?

I’ve resigned.

I have given four week’s notice from my position and have accepted a 12 month position at Australian Catholic University. It’s a position that allows me to be based at any of the six campuses ACU has in Australia, and I have elected to be based in Ballarat. My commute has been significantly reduced, but I will also be visiting the other campuses in the course of my position.


woohoo!You betcha!

Scared? Absolutely. I’ve been in my role at the Parliamentary Library for 10 years and it will be a BIG leap out of my comfort zone.

I am really looking forward to working with some wonderful people at ACU, and it’s another big step on my library journey.

10 books beside my bed

This is not a picture of the books by my bed, but my bookshelves. My bedroom is a bit messy at the moment ๐Ÿ™‚

As I mentioned, there is a pile of books beside my bed, which gets organised and tidied regularly. Some books are simply in transit- they’re on their way back to the library or back to the bookshelf, while others are destined to stay there for some time.

1 The lieutenant by Kate Grenville- I read this ages ago and am re-reading it. She is a fantastic Australian author, whose prose evokes the initial European settlement of New South Wales with such colour. I was looking for The Secret River so I could read the next book in my pile which is

2. Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville. I’m looking forward to this one!

3. Family Circle- okay, a magazine, but there are some really great knitting patterns in this issue, which I am dying to try out. I also find by keeping it near my bed, I am more inclined to be hit by the inspiration to hunt for wool and knitting needles!

4. You Sew, Girl by Nicole Mallalieu. A book aimed at the beginner sewer, with tips and tricks on sewing something you can actually wear. I’m not the best sewer (it’s the pins, and the need to cut very carefully which does my head in), but I’m up for a challenge.

5. The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon- will be re-reading this. Time travel romance is a guilty pleasure for me, amongst other things which will remain private ๐Ÿ™‚

6. Sams Teach Yourself WordPress 3 in 10 minutes– for the WordPress geek in me who is in the process of migrating the blog to a hosted site and getting a domain name registered

7. Op Shop Guide Victoria by Kelly Lainson- I had this near my bed looking for op shops in or on my way to Inverloch when we were there on the weekend. Good to dip into.

8. Baby Bible- I have no idea how this got into my book pile, other than Master BG was given this as a christening present, and the stories are at his reading level. Needless to say, I have taken great umbrage at the fact that the book says Jonah was eaten by a big fish. It was a WHALE.

9. The truth about love by Jospehine Hart. A book that is described an ‘an ambitious and poetic weaving of a long-ago family tragedy into the tragic history and histories of our time,’ by Jon Banville. The first three pages are like a stream of consciousness which were a huge turn-off for me. Going back to the library virtualy unread.

10 The Thirsty Moose by David Orme and Mike Gordon. Another of Master BG’s library books, about a moose which drinks all the water in the river. It reminded me of Tiddalik the frog when he read it. On its way back to the library.

What books do you have beside your bed? Do you read a couple at the same time or one at a time?


What becomes of the unanswered question?

Part of my job as a librarian is to answer questions. The Christian Science Monitor recently asked asked a number of reference librarians from special libraries to detail their most challenging questions. They were indeed tricky, ranging from finding the prices of spice in 16th-century Europe to astronomical phenomena which may have been present in the sky in November 1831.

The answers to these questions weren’t found in Wikipedia, and the librarians had to rely on their knowledge and print and non-digital collections to answer the questions. If a librarian doesn’t know the answer, he or she will no doubt know where the answer lies.

My own library’s print collection is specific to the needs of our users. Apart from an extensive collection of newspapers, legislation (State and Commonwealth), we have a extensive serial collection including annual reports from government agencies, departments and authorities. Much of our collections are of an historical nature, and while parts are only occasionally used or accessed, they possess a mine of information that not even Google can retrieve. It is these types of special collections such as ours and of that of the above article which are at their best when curly questions are asked. Combine this information with the expert knowledge of a specialist librarian, and it can sometimes come across to the user that you have pulled the answer from out of a hat :).

Some of our print collection has come under scrutiny from other areas of the organisation as they occupy space which is felt would be best used by other areas. The managers which are compelling this to happen are not library managers and seem to value the collection in terms of its usage rather than its intrinsic worth. It is getting to the point where further removal of the collection may result in unanswered questions, questions answered too late, and disgruntled users. What becomes of the unanswered question? It gets answered elsewhere.



A blinking cursor

Hello June 30, I can’t believe #blogjune is over!

I was going to title this post with ‘And now the end is here’ from the wonderful My Way, but that would indicate something else, such as I’ve gotten sick of writing every day for 30 days and I just want to go and bury myself in my warm bed and not get up until spring. Tempting, but no…

The challenge has been trying to find something to say when you don’t know what to say, and trying to silence that blinking cursor in the middle of a blank blog post. I have drawn inspiration from many of the participants through their posts and the wonderful memes which popped up. I know that the majority of you have a queen-sized bed and everyone seems to hate housework of some description. I’ve learned that the crafty peeps love softies, felting, knitting, scrapbooking and card-making. The interiors of our houses have come up for perusal, holiday snaps have been oohed and ahhed over (or was this just me?), and the use of pen and paper to illustrate a theme for a post has been cleverly used.

Local history has been a feature, as has social history and genealogy. I am also half inclined to take part in a week in the life project like Michelle and Tania, though my scrapbooking skills are not that great. I know my limitations regarding genealogy and with my other half having been bitten by the genealogy bug, I’m quite content to say I came from Ireland in 1972 and leave it at that for the moment :).

There has been a great deal of great library-related posts to emerge, but I think that the output of a post a day has meant that meant that posts have been lighter rather than meatier. Having said that, the collaborative posts from Libraries Interact, ALIA Sydney and The Room of Infinite Diligence have demonstrated just how well librarians work as a collective when collaborating on a blog. Several different voices, and different styles, all united by a passion for libraries and librarianship.

One of the good things which have emerged has been the 100 articles a librarian must read, which will make for a valuable read. Seeing the different libraries around the world Ellen wishes to visit whets my appetite for a busman’s holiday.

I have loved reading of people’s families, people’s recipes, and pets. I have really enjoyed knowing more of people’s musical and literary tastes and appetite for film. Fiona’s musical challenges have been cool and people have been very quick to answer them I feel spectaularly proud of the fact I can claim bragging rights on one of them :).

Apart from that, it has been a learning exprience for me. I have enjoyed the discipline of writing every day, and it is one I’ll continue to do. I’m going to take a couple of days off, make some muffins and some of the chai tea from Katie’s recipe, and make some plans as to what I want to do with this blog.

As for July, I have

  • a pile of books to read,
  • kids to wrangle during the school holidays,
  • a cardigan to finish knitting,
  • a gym to visit,
  • tax to do,
  • piles of laundry to sort (as always)

and above all, more writing to do!

Sunday Conversations

Kitchen. Sunday morning, 7.30am

Master BG: (seated at table) Mum, do vampires like garlic?

Me: (making breakfast) No, they hate garlic!

Master BG: Mum, what do vampires eat?

Me: They drink blood.

Master BG: They don’t eat brains?

Me: No, zombies eat brains. Vampires are on a liquid diet (cue laughter).

2 minutes later. Master BG and I are at table eating breakfast.

Master BG: Mum, do we have a bible?

Me: (mouth full of porridge) Why do you want a bible?

Master BG: We were talking about bibles in school.

Me: (resigned to the fact that I will never get to eat my porridge in piece) Do you want a bible or a bible stories book? (even at home always doing the reference interview)

Book of bible stories selected. Book is read. Much concern over Jonah and the ‘big fish’, from Master BG because he is swallowed, and from me because the last time I read this story, Jonah was swallowed by a WHALE which is a mammal.

Peace for five minutes.

Master BG: Mum, can I play library?

Me:(Big sigh and little chuckle) Why not ๐Ÿ™‚

Library play ensues. Such is the demand for books that library expands from just Harry Potter books to information books and Captain Underpants books, which are been organised into ‘sections’ (his words). We all take turns in being a librarian ‘Mum you know how to be one- you’re already a librarian!’ Master BG learns the basics of marketing ‘please come to my library’, and finally the grim reality ‘If you don’t come to my library I’m just going to have to close the library forever’.

Cue exit from me.

Reviewing, reflecting and rethinking

I have been preoccupied today with work, which included a lot of meetings, between which I sandwiched lunch, a visit to Haigh’s (Dark Chocolate with Cardamon for anyone interested) and some work on a report due next week.

My report entails a review of the library intranet at MPOW. I’m reviewing the information architecture of the site, for the purpose of having it revised when we move it to a new Content Management Sstem.

There has been consultations with staff, analysis of web analytics, an heuristical review of the Information Architecture and a review of a survey undertaken with our users last year on their information seeking behaviour.

There is a lot to synthesise in order to form a cohesive plan for the site, but I keep on coming back to the mission of the library as stipulated in a recent annual report that we provide timely, accurate and confidential information to clients though our reference service and research service.

As a whole the Library (as its mentioned in the report) also assists clients with information literacy programs, provides a range of services to its users, as well as electronic information resources and services.

Should the site simply be a collection of resources, or reflect what the Library does as a whole? I have begun to lean towards the latter, as I suspect the resources are used more frequently by library staff to assist our users than by the users themselves. From reading our surveys of users over the years, our clientele see the Library as an entity which is there to help them, a collection of people rather than just books, reports and documents.

Now lies the challenge of conveying what I want to do by finishing the report :).

MPOW Monday

This is the view from the reference desk at my place of work. When I first sawย  this room, my first thought was ‘gentleman’s club’. And in many ways it was until 1933 :).

The library can bustle in busy times, but in this moment, the library is in a state of repose. Desk shifts can be very quiet at times, which made me think of a recent article about how the Internet has turned everyone into librarians.

That the Internet has made more information accessible in undeniable. People who otherwise would have had to navigate vast print resources and would have relied on information specialists are now undertaking the bulk of their own information seeking themselves.Every day people are being empowered through the information they are finding and locating themselves. They are arguing over classifications of musical styles on fora, sharing links and information through Twitter and Facebook and undertaking transcribing duties through crowdsourcing activities such as the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program.

Where does that leave the librarian? In many ways the Internet has made me a better librarian. I am able to answer questions more quickly and efficiently. I know that there is more to what’s available than a search engine or Wikipedia can provide. I love the fact that there are cool databases available through university libraries with hundreds and thousands of amazing articles that I can search!

There may come a time when the job of a reference librarian may no longer exist, but as a profession we can evolve.

I also know that despite the historic nature of my library, its real treasure is not the table or the books, but the people that staff it with their own wealth of knowledge.



Chinese Lions

Yesterday the Bookgrrl family went to the Ballarat Library for the Big Read, an initiative from the Children’s Book Council of Australia to attempt to set a record for the greatest number of children reading with an adult. The event was being held concurrently in Geelong and at the State Library.

There were storytelling sessions from author Mark Carthew and storyteller Anne E Stewart, who had the kids mesmerised with her rendition of Strega Nonna and the story of Timor. They had to compete with rapping sessions and performed admirably with the noise. There was a real bustle to the place which was good for Sunday morning before 10am :). The bustle was also helped by the presence of a coffee van just outside the entrance and a sausage sizzle, with the autumnal Ballarat weather being a perfect fit for such munchies and drinks.

Theย  two Chinese Lions were mischievous and were very adept in picking up library bags with their mouths and running away with them. Miss BG got a tad scared when they got a bit too close for comfort.

Then 11am arrived and we read. The library was not entirely quiet, but the noise had died away to a low murmur as mums and dads or special persons read to their kids. Master and Miss BG came away with showbags and a couple of books, as did I- it had been a while since I visited the library and it was good to go for a quick browse!

Moorabool St Geelong

Moorabool St Geelong by bookgrrl99
Moorabool St Geelong, a photo by bookgrrl99 on Flickr.

I went on a road trip today for work, visiting some remote users of my library who are based in Geelong. It’s a good way to get to know users personally and ask them about their information needs.

It was a change of routine, which is almost as good as a holiday. I had a mini-holiday on the weekend, more of that tomorrow ๐Ÿ™‚

It was a treat to see Geelong my old hometown and Moorabool Street has benefited from a beautification program of palm trees (which hides the discount stores and empty shops from view). With most of the retail activity having moved to Westfield and Market Square, this end of town can be a bit sad.